A Word or Two About The Hype
by Tommy Burton

The Hype is a band. They are three guys from Memphis who play a no-nonsense brand of pop and rock music. You should all know about the history of the Memphis music scene. There has been so much said about it that this writer will not waste any more print or cyberspace discussing the legacy and heritage of the Bluff City. I will spend the time to talk about The Hype.

The Hype stars Luke McKee singing and playing guitars, Stephen Gifford playing bass and singing, and Doug DuBose playing the drums. Special mention goes to Chris Jolley who has helped steer their career to this point. Luke writes most of the music and Stephen writes the rest. They are on the verge of releasing their first full-length album, called Rock & Roll: Confidential. It was recorded at the legendary Easley-McCain Studios in Memphis (The White Stripes recorded their breakthrough White Blood Cells there.), one of the last albums recorded there before an electrical fire claimed it a few months ago. What a way to go.

The album is a solid slice of melodic rock music chock full of heavy guitars, smooth bass playing, and solid drumming. The harmonies are dead-on too. I can almost certainly guarantee you that there will be more than one track that will find its way into your head and you’ll be singing the chorus for hours. It’s nice to hear a band that knows how to use melody and are capable of writing catchy songs. It’s what the best pop music is all about. The Hype certainly has their sights set on this fact.

Anyone who has ever caught The Hype’s live act in and around Memphis knows that they whip up an energy between audience and band. There was a golden age of music when special things happened at rock shows when the audience could be elevated and everything was right in the world for that moment. It’s all about the song and that song’s energy. It also never hurts when the band actually performs and is there to serve their audiences.

So, what is a band with such a solid stage act to do when it gets into a studio setting? Get experimental and create the next Revolver? Or do they try to capture that live energy? It seems like The Hype opted for the latter so that fans can rest easy. They also seem confident that transferring that live feeling to disc can create new fans. The songs all begin and end appropriately while they never venture into a self-indulgent place. These are pop songs, nothing more and certainly nothing less. The best pop music can save the world.

"Moment By Moment" kicks the album off just right with its driving beat and a sing-song chorus about "a day off and another cup of coffee." "My Cleopatra" had to have been recorded in Memphis with a train backbeat worthy of Sam Phillips. It’s never rockabilly, though. The song stays in the present, an update on an old sound. "Saturday" evokes a feeling of nostalgia but never allows itself to get sappy or maudlin. It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it, which never hurts. If there is a hit song on the record, it could very well be "A Thousand Miles." It’s an acoustic guitar based break up song with some nice background harmonies to leave you picking what register you want to sing along with. "Rachael Sublime" builds to an ode to a girl that you just need to get to know. The title really says it all. "That’s My Story" begins with a rock guitar lead before it settles into a shuffle that makes you want to groove. I’m a sucker for phased bass guitar. If there is track on this record designed for me, then it’s "Daddy’s Girl," with its phased bass all over the track. More bands need to embrace the phase. It’s also the only track on the record that can be called "epic," as it runs over five minutes. The rest of the tracks average around the three-minute mark, tailor-made for radio. Another acoustic ballad called "If Only I’d Known (Undone)" follows. This is where Luke’s writing gets to shine. He co-wrote the lyrics with Chris and leaves one to wonder where this songwriter is heading. I think he’s got a bright future. "Spaceship" places the record right back in the classic vein with its imagery of blasting off and leaving this world behind. It’s a happy song of the highest order. Every good rock band knows that you have to end the show on a high note and leave the crowd wanting more. "Minute Man" delivers the goods, screaming out with a growling guitar and buildup to a short and sweet send off. The track clocks in at 1:50 and never lets up.

One of the best things about Rock & Roll: Confidential is that it never overstays its welcome and knows when to give your ears what they need. The playing is concise and tight all the way through. Each song is fully realized and no stone is unturned. If The Hype were to call it quits tomorrow and never play another note (this writer hopes not), then they will have left behind a lifetime of great tunes all packed into one solid little rock and roll record.

There may come a time when other rock bands will come to their senses and follow The Hype’s cue and understand what pleases people about music. And certainly The Hype is not the only band that does this. There are others, we just sometimes have to dig a little under the surface to find them. I can assure you that it’s worth the dig. If good, tuneful pop/rock goodness is your bag, then I can promise you that Rock & Roll: Confidential will leave your face smiling for some time to come.

Copyright 27 Apr 2005 We Like Media.
You may email Tommy Burton.

The Hype website.